MAY 22-24, 2020
Coronavirus will not quench the artistic output of this fabled neighborhood.

NEW YORK, May 15 -- With the roster still building, Theater for the New City has currently scheduled over 150 performing arts organizations, independent artists, poets, puppeteers and film makers for its 25th annual Lower East Side Festival of the Arts, which will be mounted virtually for the first time May 22 to 24, 2020. All events and performances will be seen on the theater's website, www.theaterforthenewcity.net.

Events will stream from 6:00 PM Friday, May 22 to 11:59 PM Sunday, May 24. Attendees will be able to select disciplines and artists from the website's online timetable and index. The hour-by-hour schedule will be posted on and after May 18.

as of May 13



THEATER (Other Plays)

Individual performances at 8:00 PM, group discussion at 9:00 PM

THEATER (comedy)



THEATER (Musicals)




POETRY & READINGS (curated by Lissa Moira)


A selection of feature-length films and shorts, curated by Eva Dorrepaal


CHILDREN'S FESTIVAL (curated by Donna Mejia)



VISUAL ART (curated by Carolyn Ratcliffe)
Works in various media by:



On Saturday, May 23 at 8:00 PM, there will be a live concert of performances by David Amram, Charles Busch, F. Murray Abraham, Penny Arcade, Phoebe Legere, Austin Pendleton and William Electric Black. Following their performances, these major LES artists will do a virtual "sit around" and discuss Theater, Politics and the Human Condition.



This event started in 1996 as a three-day, indoor and outdoor multi-arts festival intended to demonstrate the creative explosion of the Lower East Side and the area’s importance to culture and tourism for New York City. It employed two theater spaces at TNC plus the block of East Tenth Street between First and Second Avenues. For the past 24 years, it has been organized by TNC and a coalition of civic, cultural and business leaders and presented free to an average attendance of 4,000. This year, with obligatory separation caused by Coronavirus, it is being mounted entirely on TNC's website, with the possibility of sharing it with the world for the first time.

The 2020 festival is dedicated to essential workers: the frontline professionals who preserve our daily lives. These include professionals in the healthcare sector (doctors, nurses, EMT), government services (including fire, police, sanitation, mass transit, National Guard); public utilities, post office and other delivery services; private industries including eldercare, airports, food service workers, grocery store clerks and workers in such jobs as cashiers, stock clerks, security, airport, gas station attendants, pharmacists, funeral home workers, news providers, homeless services, food pantry workers and volunteers, janitorial staff, radio and TV engineers, communications network providers and more.

The concept of the festival was developed by Crystal Field, Executive Artistic Director of TNC and Esther Cartegena (d. 2006), President of Loisaida, Inc., to portray the Lower East Side (LES) as a haven for artists and artistic creation. The region is a unique multi-ethnic community with an unusually high level of artistic vitality. Large populations with differing languages and cultures coexist there successfully and a large artistic population helps glue the neighborhood together. Its theaters are also an unprecedented source of tourism. Sam Shepard's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, "Buried Child," was commissioned and first produced by TNC. The committee envisioned an event that would demonstrate the region’s cultural fervor, its large artistic population and its multiplicity of ethnic influences to contradict the neighborhood's stereotype as a dangerous refuge for drug dealers and criminal activity.

The first festival, presented June 14 to 16, 1996, featured over 100 attractions, drew favorable press and attracted crowds from all around the City. Its success prompted TNC to continue the festival as an annual event.

Disciplines presented have always included theater, music, dance, poetry, puppetry, cabaret, visual art, film and kids' programming.



Festival Director Crystal Field. Assistant Director Tegan Georges. Emcees of the 2020 Festival: Crystal Field, Robert Gonzales, Alberto Minero, Sabura Rashid and Susan Hemley. Curators: Crystal Field (Theater and Dance), Lissa Moira (Poetry), Carolyn Ratcliff (Fine Arts), Donna Mejia (Kids' Performances) and Eva Dorrepaal (Film). Technical staff: David Aronson, John David West, Brian Park, Roy Chang and Alexander Bartenieff.

The LES Festival is created and organized by The LES Committee: David Aronson, Alex Bartenieff, Briana Bartenieff, Roy Chang, Robert Chin, Walter Corwin, Katherine Cullinson, Eva Dorrepaal, Myrna Duarte, Carol Dudjen, Crystal Field, Matthew Fitzgerald, Andrea Fulton, Tegan Georges, Robert Gonzales Jr., Melanie Goodreaux, Robert Greer, Alan Hanna, Susan Hemley, Barbara Kahn, Dan Kelley, Anne Lucas, Ed Malin, Donna Mejia, Lissa Moira, Stephan Morrow, Brian Park, Emily Pezzella, Richard Ploetz, Carolyn Ratcliffe, Liana Rosario, Ramiro Sandoval, Ed Shea, Jonathan Slaff, David Slone, Claude Solnik, Mackenzie Surbey, Mary Tierney, Jenne Vath, Juan Villegas, Jimmy Walker, Richard Weber, Jonathan Weber, Peter Welch, John David West, Richard West, Suki Weston & Steve Hansen.

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PHOTOS ARE AVAILABLE at https://photos.app.goo.gl/FZwNmzr82ERSUwDQA.